Issue #181  5/31/2011
Swann's May Auction Totals Just Under $1 Million With Large Buy-in Rate of 37%

By Alex Novak

It wasn't the most intriguing auction that Swann put on this May 19th, but it produced yeoman-type results, bringing in $968,120, against a low estimate (without premium) of $1,169,650. More disturbing was the very high buy-in rate of over 37%--the highest of the Spring New York sales. That is even worse than its recent March sale's buy-ins at 26%, its December sale when buy-ins were at 31% and its October sale when buy-ins stood at 34%. I will ignore Swann's silly claims of records for individual images, as opposed to photographer records.

The top ten lots consisted of:

Lot 289, André Kertész, A Hungarian Memory, a portfolio complete with 15 silver prints, which sold to a collector for $48,000.

Lucky lot 13, Alfred Stieglitz, 291, numbers 1-12, which sold to a lucky dealer for only $31,200.

Lot 253, Roy DeCarava, Dancers, a later print bought by a collector for a whopping $22,800.

Lot 212 ,Walker Evans, a group of five silver prints from the portfolio, which sold to a dealer for $21,600.

Lot 199, Josef Koudelka, Gypsy, Romania, which sold to a collector for $21,600.

Lot 298, Herman Rubin's 68 photographs of Hollywood from the 1930s, sold to a collector for $19,200.

Lot 203, the Brassaï portfolio with 10 silver prints sold to a dealer for a very reasonable $16,800.

In a four-way tie for tenth place:

Lot 142, group of 50 albumen prints attributed to Frederick Gutekunst, related to the Philadelphia Society of Artists and rural scenes in Delaware County, sold to a dealer for $15,600.

Lot 309, Francesca Woodman, Untitled, sold to a dealer for $15,600.

Lot 305, a small (11 x 14 inch) Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bords de la Marne, printed late 1980s, sold to a collector for $15,600.

Lot 194 W. Eugene Smith, Minamata--Tomoko and Her Mother (Japan), sold to a collector for $15,600.

The top book in the sale was lot 17, Alvin Langdon Coburn's New York, first edition, London & New York, which sold to a collector for $14,400.